Thursday, February 27, 2003

Liberty Twp. changing its administrator

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LIBERTY TWP. - Trustees announced Wednesday that township administrator Nell Kilpatrick has resigned, effective Saturday.

Kilpatrick will assist the township part-time until Aug. 31 and be paid $750 a month. Her fulltime base salary was $59,500 as township administrator.

Trustees also named zoning supervisor Barry Tiffany acting administrator Wednesday.

The move comes after trustees raised issues with Kilpatrick's performance, records show. Trustees declined to elaborate on those Wednesday, but stressed it was important to keep her on part-time the next few months.,

"It's best for the township," said trustee president Christine Matacic, who had been serving as acting administrator since Kilpatrick took sick leave Feb. 4.

"We feel we may have some issues we may need to have her assistance on." Kilpatrick, 59, declined comment this week and was not present at Wednesday's closed-door meeting.

Kilpatrick, Liberty's leader since 1998, referred questions to her attorney, who has not returned repeated calls.

Recently, however, Kilpatrick told the Enquirer that trustees had not raised issues with her about her performance.

Trustees were not certain Wednesday how much her successor would earn but say the search would begin immediately.

Records show the flap over Kilpatrick appears to reflect dissatisfaction with her conduct, management and, ultimately, ability to help the township keep pace with the growing pains that come with 147 percent population boom in the 1990s. Liberty's population now stands at 25,000.

In her July 2002 job performance evaluation, obtained by the Enquirer, trustees wrote that Kilpatrick had weaknesses in her conduct and management abilities:

• Employee Relations: "sometimes confrontational/vindictive and may have led to turnover in the office."

• Communications: "has difficulty communicating negative aspects with employees - would rather not communicate than to face the issues."

• Lack of initiative as a manager: "causes confusion as to who is responsible and what the policies/procedures are."

In a response she wrote to trustees in October 2002, Kilpatrick said she was working on addressing those issues and/or the "perception" of them, a copy obtained by the Enquirer shows.

Not in the file

Neither document, considered public records, was in Kilpatrick's personnel file when it was released Feb. 6 upon the Enquirer's request following her absence.

Matacic said she did not know why the records were not in Kilpatrick's file.

Since that time, the locks have been changed on Kilpatrick's office door, and she has been locked out of her township computer and e-mail account, according to Trustee Bob Shelley.

Shelley has argued against Kilpatrick's exit, saying that while she had made mistakes, none was serious enough to warrant her dismissal.


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